Reporting from: Médecins Sans Planètes Headquarters, Copernicus City, Mars
Tent flaps clattered in the wind as an orange dusk settled over Hercules avenue in downtown Copernicus yesterday evening. Doctor Murray Cohen jabs one Copernican in the fat of their left arm after another, inoculating whole city blocks against a deadly parasite in mere minutes.
Throngs have come to the hospital in wake of the Martian Malaria epidemic, finally claiming victims in the planet’s largest metropolis. Emergency room doctors at Feely Medical Center have struggled to cope with the overflow of sick and infected. Ultra violet light barriers have been hastily erected to separate the healthy, and busy lines of people are being rushed through inoculations. Medical tent-cities and makeshift hospital wings are operating right in the middle of Hercules avenue & 42nd street, the busiest intersection on the entire planet.
People are lining up to receive “Pinafore,” the Martian Malaria vaccine. Given in three stages, the vaccine inoculates an individual for a minimum 15 years against a host of bug born parasites, pathogens, diseases, viruses, and nearly anything else Mars can produce to sicken a person.
Cohen, an infectious disease specialist and trauma physician, landed on Mars just over 48 hours ago with the humanitarian non-profit, Doctors Without Planets. 150,000 citizens have since lined a city block around Feely Medical Center, all awaiting vaccinations or treatment. The medical aid group along with the Interplanetary Red Cross are here to support the overall mission against malaria, lead by the United States of North America Space Force and Colonization Agency.
“It’s been amazing so far, stopped this malaria strain dead, we’ve even been able to reverse the condition in some with receptive genetics. People with the sickle cell trait have been remarkable to witness. Anyway, we needed some weapons against this thing, and since the development of the Pinafore vaccine by Roche’s space division … it puts our malaria response back on track.” Interplanetary Health Organization leader Ansel Stubbens stated during a telepathic press conference last night.
Estimates say at least 3 million Martian citizens planetwide have fallen ill, with a near 24% mortality rate. Martian Sand Fleas are the most likely culprit. Deaths are highest among low income workers that spend most of their time outside colony or city domes. There has been conjecture the radiation levels on the surface hyper-activate this specific strain of Martian Malaria, making it all the more deadly. Roche Galactic Pharma is said to have shipped 5 million doses of their vaccine to Mars, the cargo arriving next week via a SpaceX rocket drone.
Although a viable and effective antidote has been found, panic still persists across the planet, especially in the traditionally skeptical city of Copernicus. The city’s Anarchist mayor, Sorr N’ozz, has spoken out against Roche’s intervention, adding “Mars is testing us, that’s all, it’s up to us to survive by ourselves.”
Inside Feely Medical Center, patients have to deal with dangerously overcrowded exam rooms. Burned out nurses and doctors are working 36 hour shifts, and robotic medical techs are running their highest rates of allowable error. Humid temperatures are adding to the claustrophobia. Crowding is causing excessive stress on oxygenation and cooling systems, testing life support limits. Not to mention the constant trudging up and down steps between phases of inoculation.
Those waiting outside only have to deal one very long assembly line, where they receive their three needles inside three interconnected tents. Ford factory style, or perhaps, Musk factory style here on Mars.
Outside on the city street a consistent Martian wind blows through Copernicus’ ventilation shafts, sending an occasional gust of red sand whipping down Hercules avenue. A red twister strong enough to strip paint or crack a dome window. Still people persist in a line that seems to never end. They know they must get their shot or face an uncertain future.
Last month several cities across Mars neared collapse. Over 70% of planetwide population was infected with H5N7 Martian malaria parasite. The parasite spread in the matter of only 1 week. People were dying, automated functions were beginning to fail, martial law was declared and resources from Earth had to be called upon.
An anonymous source within the citywide Copernican Health Department thinks many local officials disagree with the handling of the crisis, saying,
“Where was everyone two months ago. We had the data. They’re forcing this untested vaccine on us now, but I don’t know. It might be too late. We’re all so tired on the ground.”
The United Nations Space Agency, the United States Space Force, the European Space Agency, the Japanese Union SpaceCo, and a handful of private space companies, including SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Boeing have made available emergency material and personnel. An armada of colony support ships are en route to Mars orbit at this moment. The U.S.N.A Space Force has assumed command of directing all resources and missions until the planetwide state of emergency has been lifted.
Doctors Without Planets answered a distress call from Copernicus City during the height of the vaccination crunch downtown. Oddly, no governmental space ships or corporate shuttles where in the vicinity at the time the medical emergency was declared. A small group of physicians with D.W/O.P were returning to Earth after a routine health screening on Phobos, examining a mining colony on Mars’ largest moon. Corporate interests have become involved in exploiting Phobos and Deimos. Colonists on the Martian surface have claimed neglect, citing lack of adequate resources for safety and infrastructure maintenance.
Conditions on the ground vary based on geography of course, with the vast majority of Copernicans stating they enjoy a high quality of life, and perfer living on Mars. However, the wave of illness has struck every population center hard, and so Dr. Cohen still sits in his makeshift tent outside on Hercules avenue, fighting this epidemic under the planet’s orange glow, covered in red sand. The doctor said he will be right here tomorrow too, on the same floating stool, vaccinating as many Copernicans as he can.
Now that it seems the worst has passed, Martian colonies can recover. But, some politicians are trying to make hay of the issue. Looking to finger a culprit for the outbreak. Martian Senator James Kilzpatrik has pointed to unlicensed immigration from Luna, Earth’s Moon. There have even been some telepathic leaks from the Martian Congressional Intelligence Committee, thought has it, anti-western corporate agents, or secret Earthside governmental actors may have committed genetic terrorism.
Yet, there are a few rogue scientists who believe a much scarier proposition. Mars is trying to shake off the human population. Discoveries of mutated sand fleas carrying a version of the malaria not yet contagious to humans, but nearing that evolution, have the scientists speculating that Mars itself may be creating pathogens as quickly as humanity can create anti-pathogens or vaccines.
Though their reports have been censored, the small cadre of scientists subscribing to this theory say at least at this point, the current threat from this strain of Martian Malaria is contained. They join the majority of spokesman from each government, various space agencies, and corporate concerns saying the situation is under control. And any further health threats will be meet with a swift scientific and medical response.
People here on the ground waiting in line for the vaccine just want things to return to normal. They want barricades and curfews lifted. They want to go outside, to go to the parks again. They want their favorite restaurants to reopen. They want their city back.
More to come as the situation develops, BenjAGImin FranklAIn , from the Doctors W/o Planets H.Q in Copernicus City, Mars, disconnecting…….